I read about Victorian masculinity in one of my courses at school and have been wondering how the definition of masculinity is different in today’s times versus the Victorian times. Our times, society, economy, overlapping or gender roles all play a part in the change.
The concept of masculinity in Victorian times was diverse as it was influenced by factors like economy, gender roles, imperialism etc. The concept of masculinity today is not as sharp and distinct as it was and has lost the meaning it held in the Victorian times where the roles were distinct. Middle class and labor class men both worked outside whereas women stayed at home taking care of household needs. The dominant position of men and the subordination of women was a norm.
I read somewhere that in those times a woman’s performance of femininity worked as a guarantee for a man’s performance of masculinity.
Hegemonic masculinity prevalent then has undergone drastic changes. A hegemonic male represented an ideal man. He was a bread-winner, was tough and violent, contradictory, rich, crisis-prone and socially sustained. But such men were rare.
And now, there are hardly any. Masculinity has overlapped with femininity as more and more men help in household work and women are bread- earners. The distinct line has been erased. The gender interplay does not leave any scope or need for such gender biased roles. A great many men are not violent toward their wives and bring their accustomed share of earning home. Such men are considered truly masculine in today’s times.